UPDATE: This small business grants post was originally published on 23 April 2019 and updated on 30 June 2020.
Starting and owning a business can be tricky. That’s why having access to funds is vital. A great place to get started is with government funding. From small business grants to wage subsidies, there’s a range of government initiatives to help kick start your business.
Whether you need help to expand your business or develop new products, there’s a small business grant that will fit the bill.
So how do you go about finding these funds that are waiting to be awarded?
You can search the full database of government grants via the Australian Government’s Grant Finder. Bear in mind that you’ll need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for each grants. In the meantime, we’ve rounded up a list of the top 10 Australian small business grants — including three WA small business grants — to help get you started.
10 grants you should check out (including small business grants WA)
No matter where you live and work, business startups take money. Here are a few sources to look into.
- New Business Assistance with NEIS.
- The Instant Asset Write-Off.
- The Australian Apprenticeships Incentive Programme.
- The Entrepreneurs’ Programme.
- CSIRO Kick-Start.
- Wage subsidies.
- Small Business Digital Grants Program (QLD).
- The R&D Tax Incentive.
- Small business grants (4 Perth grants).
- Industry Sector Development Sponsorship (Perth).
Let’s look at how to go about applying for each of these grants.
1. New Business Assistance with NEIS
If you have an idea for a business but you’re not sure how to get it off the ground, the New Business Assistance with NEIS (The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) could be the answer.
This annual program provides professional training and financial assistance to help start a new business.
With only 8,600 places on offer each year, it’s a competitive program. New Business Assistance with NEIS offers accredited small business training and mentoring in the first year of business. Plus, there’s an NEIS allowance and rental assistance for up to 39 weeks for those eligible.
New Business Assistance with NEIS could be the helping hand you need.
Who can apply: You must be 18 years or older, legally able to work in Australia, and your business cannot already be in operation. A NEIS provider will assess your business idea to make sure it’s commercially viable and approve you to apply. You can search for a NEIS provider near you at the jobactive website.
2. The Instant Asset Write-off
In the past, all assets purchased by a business had to be depreciated at a certain percentage over a number of years. With the Instant Asset Write-off, any asset valued at up to $150,000 (raised from $20,000) can be written off for the total taxable amount, minus any percentage deemed for personal use.
To qualify, assets must have been purchased from 7.30pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 but not first used or installed ready for use until 12 March 2020 to 31 December 2020.
Although the Instant Asset Write-off isn’t a small business grant, it does provide tax relief to startups.
The write-off is applied for you when you lodge your tax for the relevant year.
Note that from 1 January 2021, the write-off will only be available for small businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million and the threshold will be $1,000.
Who can apply: You need to be operating a business with an aggregated turnover of $10 million (up from $50 million) to less than $500 million and the assets need to have been purchased and used or installed within the same financial year. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
3. The Australian Apprenticeships Incentive Programme
Editor's note: As of 11the June 2020, this programme is not currently available.
If you’re currently running your own trade business, the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme can provide you with up to $4,000 to employ and train an apprentice.
There’s a range of incentives for Australian employers to offer apprenticeship opportunities. These are based on the apprenticeship certificate level completed, from mature-aged worker incentives to rural and regional skills shortage incentives.
Who can apply: At a minimum, you need to employ an apprentice at Certificate II, III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level. You also need to have a training contract in place. Payment of funds is subject to both the employer and the apprentice satisfying the eligibility criteria.
4. The Entrepreneurs’ Programme
A flagship initiative of the Australian Government, the Entrepreneurs' Programme is designed to foster entrepreneurial innovation and accelerate business growth, competitiveness and productivity. The scheme offers support through four different streams:
This is a competitive, merit-based initiative that helps small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers bring new products, processes and services to market. The program provides access to expert advice and matched funding of up to $1 million to cover eligible commercialisation costs.
The Business Management program provides access to a network of skilled business advisors to help businesses improve their practices and develop trade in both the Australian and international markets. The initiative provides 12 months’ mentoring and a business evaluation action plan, as well as funding up to $20,000 to cover up to 50% of eligible costs.
This initiative provides grant funding of up to $500,000 for new and existing incubators that help Australian startups succeed in international markets.
By matching businesses with an experienced facilitator, this service helps foster innovation and collaboration between business and the research sector. Your facilitator will help identify knowledge gaps that are slowing your growth. He or she will also help identify opportunities to work with research organisations.
Who can apply: To apply for the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, you must have an annual turnover of between $1.5 million and $100 million and be operating in one of the following growth sectors (other eligibility criteria may apply):
- Advanced manufacturing
- Food and agribusiness
- Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals
- Mining equipment, technology and services
- Oil, gas and energy resources
- Enabling technologies
5. CSIRO Kick-Start
A new initiative for Australian startups and SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises) is the CSIRO Kick-Start program. This program provides funding as well as CSIRO research expertise to help owners develop their businesses.
The program offers eligible businesses matched funding of up to $50,000 to research, develop or test a new idea, product or process with CSIRO.
You need to have an ACN and be registered for GST with an annual turnover and operating expenditure of less than $1.5 million or have been a registered company for less than three years. Other eligibility criteria may apply.
6. Wage subsidies
Financial incentives in the form of wage subsidies can help your business take on new employees affordably. This programme offers up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to businesses that hire an eligible employee who is:
- Between 15 and 24 years of age
- An Indigenous Australian
- Aged 50 years and over
If your new employee is between 25 and 29 years of age, a principal carer parent or registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more, your business may be eligible to receive up to $6,500. Talk to your employment services provider for more info.
Who can apply: You need to have an ABN and the position you’re offering must be ongoing for 20 or more hours per week and comply with employment standards. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
7. Small Business Digital Grants Program (QLD)
If your business is located in Queensland, you may be eligible for the Small Business Digital Grants Program.
Grants of up to $10,000 (excluding GST) can be used to buy hardware, software and services.
The initiative is designed to help small businesses use digital technologies and services to work more effectively, engage with the global economy and make the most of online business opportunities.
Who can apply: You must have an ABN and be registered for GST, have your headquarters in Queensland and an annual turnover less than $2 million. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
8. The R&D Tax Incentive
If you’re undertaking eligible research and development activities, you may be able to claim the government’s R&D Tax Incentive.
This long-running initiative provides a tax offset for some of the cost of doing eligible R&D by reducing your income tax liability.
Tax offsets of 43.5% or 38.5% are available for costs incurred on eligible activities, depending on a company’s annual aggregated turnover.
Who can apply: You must be an incorporated R&D entity in Australia and be conducting eligible R&D activities. Applications can be made at any time within 10 months of the end of the financial year. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
9. Small business grants (4 Perth grants)
If you’re on the west coast, the City of Perth has a number of incentives with its comprehensive business grants program. You may be eligible for a WA Small Business Grant of up to $5,000 to help develop capacity, invest in your premises and build sustainability. The current round of funding for this grant closes 30th June 2020.
Alongside the Small Business Grant is the Event Support Grant, Small Business Mobile Trading Support Grant (current round closing 30th June 2020) and COVID-19 Quick Response Community Grants, which will stop accepting applications 30 September 2020.
Who can apply: You need to have an ABN and a commercial lease agreement within the City of Perth, and have 20 or fewer employees. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
10. Industry Sector Development Sponsorship (Perth)
The city of Perth offers an Industry Sector Development Sponsorship programme for businesses working in:
- Resources and energy
- Tourism and hospitality
- Property development
- Professional services
- Innovation and technology
- International education
- Health sciences and medical research
Recipients will receive funding upwards of $2,500 for skills and training (including business incubation or acceleration programs), networking and thought leadership exchanges, the creation of cooperative clusters between sectors and any programme or event that can generate long-term economic gain for the City.
Who can apply: You need to have an ABN and submit an application through the City's approved management portal at least four weeks in advance of requests of $5,000 and under (12 weeks for requests over $5,000). Other eligibility requirements may apply.
You can find funding through small business grants
Small businesses make a vital contribution to the Australian economy.
That’s why the Australian government has established a number of initiatives to the tune of 0 million to help you launch, grow and succeed in your small business.
Whether you’re developing a new idea or want to expand into new markets, you can find financial support relevant to your business. Make sure you check the eligibility requirements and application cutoff dates. Your business could be on the receiving end of a much needed cash injection!
All details were accurate as of the date of post revision. Please check linked sites for up-to-date information and deadlines.